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GUEST ROOM | Cel Shading, Framerates and The Dragon Prince

You may have first seen Cel Shading in 2013 with the premiere of RWBY, an “American Anime” aimed at both American and Japanese anime fans. Characters are 3D models, like a lot of modern animation, but they look a little different from their Disney-Pixar cousins. In stills, they could fool you into thinking they’re two-dimensional drawings or frames from some traditionally-drawn anime. The character’s skin looks flat and their eyes are large and cartoony. Cel Shading is a technique long used by video games, from the classic Katamari Damacy to the more recent The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but in recent years, animation studios have used it to bring the anime style into the modern era.

Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios

LING | Eat Up!

Walking into a dark theater to watch Incredibles 2 this summer, I was excited to watch a highly anticipated sequel to a movie that had been a part of my childhood, not to be emotionally wrecked. When the customary animated Pixar short began, I gasped as the image of a squat Asian woman deftly shaping meat-filled buns on her kitchen counter filled the screen. The familiarity of the motions as well as the hunger-inducing detail of the ingredients brought to mind moments of my own childhood, moments that I hardly expected to be represented in animation before a blockbuster Pixar film. The short film, “Bao,” depicts the complex relationship between a Chinese mother and her son, a steamed bun that suddenly comes alive, from birth to rebellious adolescence. Directed by Domee Shi, a Canadian-Chinese woman, “Bao” is able to accurately capture bits and pieces of the Chinese-American experience, from a house filled with objects that can be found in every Chinese household to the pain and distance the son inflicts on his mother in his attempts to navigate assimilation.

Courtesy of Pixar Animation Studios

It’s Incredible Too

The Incredibles came out on November 5, 2004 — I was six. Since that date I have started and finished elementary, middle and high school and gone away to college. Last Thursday, though, I, in a theater full of adults, was six again with just one big, red letter “i.” I was Ego finally tasting Ratatouille’s titular dish. Every layer of maturity I thought would float me above the draw of a 14-year-old animated movie’s sequel was shattered the instant that iconic “da da DA da daaaah” filled the theater. I was nostalgically excited when Star Wars came back, but that excitement’s become the cause of fatigue.

Courtesy of Amisk Ace Entertainment

Mind Game at Cornell Cinema: A Wild Ride

This week, I had the privilege of being invited by Cornell Cinema to preview the film Mind Game, which will be screening this Friday and Saturday. Mind Game is a Japanese movie from 2004, directed by Masaaki Yuasa and Kôji Morimoto. It’s received critical praise from festivals around the world, but has seen limited release to general viewers. Over the past couple years, though, it’s finally been filtering into theaters, so the chance to see it here at Cornell is truly a rare experience. And what an experience it is!

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Isle of Dogs: Another Strange Masterpiece

I have been looking forward to this movie for months. Since Isle of Dogs’ first trailer dropped last September, I have waited with bated breath. So much intersected here: not only is it a stop-motion animated film, but it’s a Wes Anderson film, AND it’s a PG-13 animated film. That last one stuck out the most to me. We see family animated films and adult animated films all the time, but nothing in the middle.

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Sherlock Gnomes: Kids Deserve Better

Do you ever hear about something, and after a few words you already know it’s a terrible idea? That’s how I felt with Sherlock Gnomes, the sequel to 2011’s Gnomeo and Juliet. Now, I never saw Gnomeo and Juliet, but from what I know, I feel that it didn’t warrant a sequel. Audience reactions seem lukewarm at best. Its gross wasn’t particularly impressive, only turning a profit thanks to the small budget.

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GOULDTHORPE | Big Name Leaves Pixar

Two weeks ago, I wrote about Coco’s win at the Oscars, and reflected on the film and what it meant. A couple days after though, a story broke in the Hollywood Reporter. Darla Anderson, the producer behind Coco and a long time Pixar veteran, announced on March 8 that she would be departing the studio. She released a statement saying, “I’ve had a magical and privileged experience working at Pixar for over two decades. The creativity, imagination, and innovation at Pixar is second to none.

Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Sony Turned Peter Rabbit into a Remorseless Killer

Most of us grew up with Beatrix Potter’s stories, the most famous among them being her debut work The Tale of Peter Rabbit in 1902. It’s a charming little morality tale about a young rabbit warned by his mother to not raid a farmer’s garden. He does so and lands himself in trouble. It may not be the headiest of literature, but it’s a cultural touchstone. Three years ago, the Sony email hacks revealed that they were planning on bringing Beatrix Potter’s beloved character to the big screen.

Courtesy of Magic Light Pictures

Oscar-Nominated Animated Short Films Delight at Cornell Cinema

With the Oscars right around the corner, Cornell Cinema recently screened the nominees for best Animated Short. All five films showcase completely different styles of animation and stories. A love letter written by NBA legend Kobe Bryant, an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s dark take on fairy tales and frogs uncovering a chilling secret are just a few of the shorts included in this years selection of nominees. Dear Basketball is based on a poem of the same name written by Kobe Bryant. It utilizes a sketch-based animation, helping draw the audience in with a black and white color scheme that created a youthful look and fast pace.

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GOULDTHORPE | Peter Rabbit, the Latest Victim of Shrek Humor

Later this week, I will be going to see Sony Animation’s take on Peter Rabbit, the beloved children’s series by Beatrix Potter. What are my expectations? Considering that the promotions are filled with Animal House-style parties, and that our titular hero shoves a carrot up Domhnall Gleeson’s derrière, I’m not particularly looking forward to it. That still looks masterful, though, compared to the upcoming Sherlock Gnomes, which features truly hilarious lines like “‘We need a ship.’ ‘No ship, Sherlock.’” and an old man dancing around in a thong. How did we get here?